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Tres leches cake with rum-milk espuma, pineapple salsa and caramel ice cream. [Joseph Victor Stefanchik/For The Washington Post]

Need a lift? Let Oyamel pick you up. Eating amid a swarm of faux butterflies and more color than Oz is like dining inside a beautiful piñata. Named for the fir trees in Mexico that sustain monarchs in winter, the Penn Quarter retreat is one of multiple small-plates restaurants from the globe-trotting José Andrés and a rare source of memorable Mexican cooking in Washington.


Sliced chayote strewn with crumbled white cheese and crushed peanuts gets a brilliant charge from its hibiscus dressing. Raw striped bass with citrus and jicama in a marinade of pineapple juice and habanero makes you glad to have dipped into seviche. And I almost squeal when I take a bite of the taco filled with soft baby pig, crisp pork rinds and green tomatillo sauce. (Fried grasshopper tacos, on the other hand, are proof that if you fry something in enough garlic, it’s going to be at least decent.) Hominy and shredded pork in a brick-red broth is a strapping good time that becomes a major party with the addition of lime, radishes and cabbage.


Proceed with abandon.


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